The chief United Nations weapons inspector for Iraq has given members of the Security Council another progress report on Iraqi disarmament, in which he characterizes Baghdad's cooperation as very limited at best. This new report will likely set the stage for further debate among the 15 members of the council, most of whom oppose U.S. and British threats to forcibly disarm Iraq and want to give weapons inspections more time.
Three months into the inspections process, chief weapons inspector Hans Blix says a range of Iraqi disarmament issues still remain unresolved, accusing Iraq of failing to provide up to date information on its alleged chemical, biological and missile programs.
While Baghdad has provided prompt access to suspected weapons sites, he says Iraqi officials have not been forthcoming with documents, physical evidence and testimony from scientists who could help answer remaining questions.
Iraq maintains all of its banned weapons have already been destroyed. But in an apparent change of course, Baghdad has agreed in principle to a U.N. demand it begin destroying scores of its short range al-Samoud 2 missiles. Mr. Blix told reporters at the United Nations Friday such a move would be a positive development.
"It is a very significant piece of real disarmament," he said.
Weapons inspectors say the missiles exceed flight limits set by the United Nations. Both sides were still working Friday on exactly how their destruction would be achieved. Still, the Bush administration dismissed Iraq's pledge to get rid of them as more deception, and charged Baghdad is continuing to build more of the same outlawed missiles.
Hans Blix is expected to answer questions about his latest report on Iraqi disarmament during another meeting of the Security Council next week.
Right now, the council's 15 members remain split between countries led by France which believes weapons inspections are working and should be given more time and the United States and Britain, who charge Baghdad is continuing to build and hide banned weapons. They, along with Spain, are asking the council to approve a new resolution declaring that Iraq has lost its last chance to disarm voluntarily and must now face the consequences.